I know that I am not the only one with super active kids—many parents that I talk to are just as busy, running their kids around town to more than one activity after school. If your kids participate in an extracurricular sport and maybe a lesson or two, you probably fall into the category of a family that is out of the home around dinnertime. Our family experiences this 3–4 days a week every school year. Some days I am making dinner to be ready at 2 pm so that my girls have something home-cooked to eat while at the dance studio after school, which runs late into the evening.
While our load may appear lightened over the vacation, many of us will have kids attending day camp, summer sports clubs, and other activities over the break. School may be out for the summer, but if you have active kids, chances are they’ll be just as busy over the next couple of months—and that means they still need feeding.
It isn’t easy to pre-plan portable meals, and we fall into the fast food trap too. However, as a work-at-home-mom, I feel a responsibility to prepare healthy meals or at least meals where I know the ingredients. The challenge of feeding our kids well-balanced meals when it’s being eaten in the back of the car is that it has to be portable, easy, and most of all, taste good. Otherwise, it’s really easy to run through a drive-through and fill up on junk.
I’m not a Pinterest-mom or a gourmet chef, but I have experimented with a number of different meals and snacks that have worked for my family.
Generally, my motto is to include something lean and something green. Wraps, burritos, and even bagel sandwiches are easy to prepare ahead and can always include something lean, like chopped chicken breast or ground turkey, and then something green like lettuce, avocado, spinach or broccoli. If you always plan ahead to have some cooked meat on hand, and then a variety of greens, these are easy to put together.
Another great tummy-filler is pre-made stuffed baked potatoes. We often make these ahead and keep them in the freezer. I add a variety of stuffings, like crab meat and cheese, tuna, bacon and onion and always some chopped broccoli. They can be baked and then kept warm, and eaten later. While these aren’t as lean, they do provide a hearty snack/meal that gives my kids enough fuel to get through the evening.
Most kids like pasta, therefore I find that any kind of whole wheat pasta is easy to pre-portion in containers for grab and go meals. You can prepare plain noodles or something like stuffed ravioli and mix with a protein like chicken, farmer sausage, or short ribs and top with any type of marinara or tomato sauce. If you are eating in the car, it isn’t as convenient, but if you have a chance to sit somewhere and warm it up, it tastes great and is generally well received by kids.
The key to feeding active kids on-the-go is pre-planning. It’s easy to let hunger get the best of you and cave to fast food, which always smells great and is much more convenient. If you don’t have time to pre-plan or you aren’t much of a cook, there are more healthy options like protein packs or oatmeal from Starbucks, or sandwiches from Subway.
Most parents are equally as busy as their children, but I have found that taking the extra time to plan, prepare and feed my active kid’s home-prepared healthy meals, keeps their energy up and as a result, my stress down.